The University received two gifts totaling $25 million in the past week.
Duke announced May 8 that Jeffrey Vinik, Pratt ’81 and his wife Penny, will give $10 million establish the Vinik Faculty Challenge Fund, a dollar-for-dollar matching fund to help sponsor up to 10 associate or full professorships that will focus on tackling large issues related to energy, global health, brain sciences and the environment. Many of these professors will have primary appointments in the Pratt School of Engineering while others will be appointed jointly with professors from other schools.
“Universities will be at the forefront in developing creative solutions to the most pressing problems of our time,” President Richard Brodhead said in a statement. “We’re tremendously grateful to the Vinik family for building Duke’s research and teaching capacities in this crucial area.”
The second gift, given by David Rubenstein, Trinity ’70 and vice chair of the Board of Trustees, will spur the progress of the University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Initiative. Brodhead announced this $15 million gift May 11. The project was launched October 2010 to support and nourish the entrepreneurial ambitions of students and faculty. The program is led by former Board member Kimberley Jenkins, senior adviser to the president and provost for innovation and entrepreneurship.
“Every successful institution began as someone’s bright idea, and the creativity and can-do spirit of entrepreneurs are playing an ever more important role in building the economy and solving social challenges,” Brodhead said in a statement. “In today’s economic climate, sparking and training the entrepreneurial spirit is a fundamental goal of education. We’re grateful to David Rubenstein for making Duke a leader in this field.”
Rubenstein’s gift will create an incubator and mentoring programs as well as courses that will help students develop innovations and business ventures. It will expand on previous gifts given for the same cause.
Both donors have previously given multiple gifts to the University. The Viniks’ gifts include $5 million donated in 1999 to expand engineering facilities. Rubenstein’s largest gift to Duke previously was a $13.6 million donation in 2011 in service of the Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, renamed the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library in his honor.